NEW DELHI: The Covid-19 situation in India will turn into a full-blown crisis if strict adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour isn’t ensured, Dr Randeep Guleria, the director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, has warned.
Dr Guleria, who is also a member of the national taskforce for Covid-19 management, said that people weren’t wearing masks or maintaining social distance even though the daily cases continue to rise sharply.
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“It took several months for the Covid-19 tally in the country to cross the 70,000-mark during the first wave. This time around, we are seeing a very steep curve,” the AIIMS director said. A similar situation is being witnessed in the national capital, he added.
Till about a month ago, Delhi was recording 130 to 140 cases daily. However, in the last one week, the daily tally has increased 10 times. On Thursday, the city recorded 2,790 new cases—highest in over three months. The number of cumulative cases stood at 6,65,220.
Dr Guleria said that presence of mutated strains of the virus that causes Covid-19, most importantly the UK strain, which has high transmissibility, is an important factor behind the sudden surge. However, he added, the lack of Covid-appropriate behaviour — wearing masks in public places, social distancing and washing hands regularly — was the main reason.
“People have developed a fatigue to the situation. They want to go out, party and travel even though the cases are rising. One of the reasons behind this is that this time around the young are more affected and the severity of symptoms among them is lesser. However, we must realise that eventually the young may spread the infection to the elderly people and those with comorbidities and we might witness overwhelming healthcare infrastructure once again,” Dr Guleria said.
He stressed on the need to vaccinate people against Covid-19 at a faster pace and bring back the focus on testing, tracking, isolation and treating persons who are found positive for the disease. “It may not be feasible to impose lockdown again. But, if necessary, there should be some restriction on non-essential travel,” the AIIMS director said.
He added that in areas where there is a cluster of new cases, micro-containment zones may be created to prevent disease spread. “If we don’t control the situation now, it may get difficult to deal with its effects at a later stage. Hospitals may get flooded with requests for admissions. Already, we are seeing 200% rise in requests for Covid-19 beds in Delhi,” added Dr Guleria.
Non-Covid patients may also get affected if the healthcare infrastructure and manpower remain occupied with Covid-19 leading to more problems and deaths, doctors warn.